Syria FM hails Oman for maintaining ties throughout war


Muscat (AFP)

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on Tuesday praised Oman for being one of the few Arab states to maintain ties with Damascus over the past seven years of civil war.

Syria was suspended from the Arab League in 2011 for its deadly crackdown on an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule and fellow Arab countries including Saudi Arabia and Qatar have supported the opposition.

Oman's Sultan Qaboos adheres to a strict policy of non-interference in regional affairs, maintaining relations with rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran -- a key backer of Assad.

During a visit to Oman, Muallem praised Muscat for taking "supportive positions towards Syria at various Arab and international forums", the state-run Oman News Agency reported.

Syria's top envoy touted economic and investment cooperation with the sultanate, noting that reconstruction opportunities were on the horizon.

"The reconstruction of Syria will be launched soon, as the crisis approaches its end," Muallem said.

The visit, which started on Monday, is slated to last several days, during which time Muallem will inaugurate the headquarters of Syria's new embassy in Muscat, Syrian state media said.

It is Muallem's second trip to Oman since 2011, with the sultanate the only Gulf state to have hosted the Syrian envoy since then.

"There are no points of contention between us. We are always in brotherly dialogue, and we always hear out the ideas of the Omani leadership," Muallem told Oman TV on Monday.

"It is enough for us that the sultanate has maintained a consistent approach."